Author: Adia Paulete
For the purposes of her presentation Paulete defined community as a group of people living interconnected with one another, benefitting from each other and acknowledging that everything done by an individual has an effect on those living with them. Her thesis: Living in an intentional community helps in the individuals awareness of themselves and their surroundings.
Ms. Paulete had the opportunity to test her thesis by spending some time at the Lake Claire Community Land Trust. She wanted her research to go beyond reading; she wanted it to be personal. She spent time with many different people within the community and also spent time at their many events, such as their bi-monthly drum circle.
Why would someone join an intentional community? Paulete found that the most common answers to this question were:
- Disenchantment with the American Dream: People have been shown by media and society one way to live and it doesn’t work for them.
- Desire to live in a community: They want to be close to their neighbors; including a deeper level of trust and understanding of one another
- Need for a green space. Caring for the environment, animals, music and a common space helps connect with others. There is a symbiotic nature between people and their environment.
In a nutshell, intentional communities allow individuals to transcend norms in society and to feel connections that are lost in mainstream society. The respect and compassion that Paulete experienced at the land trust created a deeper connection between individuals. She also noted that there was more responsibility within the community; an understanding that lack of one individual can affect a whole community. Another outcome of intentional communities is consensus; decision making is important and everyone has a voice. The product of all of these things is a positive social dynamic and material access, increased social interaction and collective well-being.
Paulete ended by speaking about what is lacking in mainstream culture. First, she believes that stigmas surrounding intentional communities will need to be combatted. The mainstream is worried about stereotypes of a “cult” or “hippies”. She also believes that empathy and a lack of understanding of how we affect one another is missing in the mainstream culture . As someone who is very interested in an intentional community, I couldn’t agree more. It’s difficult to go against the grain, and it takes great care and time. But taking that time to find what your version of the American Dream is, seems to be well worth it.